Man sentenced for beating death, committed while a youth

A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has largely agreed with Crown counsel's position in sentencing a now-23-year-old man for beating his father to death and then trying to hide the body, an act committed five years ago when he was still a youth.

He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and causing indignity to a body from the August 2014 incident in Mackenzie. Because he committed the offence when he was 17 years old, he is being sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and his name is protected by a publication ban.

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At issue was how much of a three-year intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision order - aimed at youth suffering from a mental illness, psychological disorder or an emotional disturbance - should be spent in custody.

Crown argued for two years behind bars followed by one year in the community, stressing the gravity of the offences, while defence counsel argued for serving the entire term in the community, noting he has performed well in the five years he has been living in a group home and raising a concern that spending time in custody will only cause more harm than good.

On Tuesday, Justice Ron Tindale settled on 18 months in custody and 18 months in the community. While the man has done "exceptionally well" in terms of his behaviour since committing the offences, Tindale noted that manslaughter is one of the most serious offences in the Criminal Code. Tindale described the beating as "vicious" and found the man had shown a "callous disregard" for the victim in trying to cover up the crime.

According to an agreed statement of facts, the man was 17 years old when he left his mother's home in Alberta and moved in with his father despite the fact he had fallen on hard times and appeared unable to care for his son.

There was little food in the home, the father had fallen behind on his bills and both he and his son consuming marijuana and crack cocaine, the court was told. Matters came to a head when the power was cut off and the father blamed the son for playing his music too loud.

When the son threatened to kill him, the father armed himself with a machete while the son grabbed a club or piece of lumber and repeatedly took a swings at the older man. Realizing the next day that he had killed the man, the son used the cover of darkness to put the body in a back yard shed.

In the days that followed, RCMP launched a search for the man that eventually led them to the shed. The son had managed to slip away but was apprehended the next day.

Upon being sentenced Tuesday, the man bowed to Tindale before he was led away to begin his time in custody, which will be served in an adult facility.

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